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Trump and Trudeau Had a Tense Phone Call Over The New Tariffs; Larry Kudlow Says Trump is Not Backing Down; Trump is Paying a Visit to FEMA Headquarters for a Briefing On The New Hurricane Season. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 7, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Pressing some serious reservations about going to Canada. The G7 summit tomorrow. Washington Post reports the president has vented privately about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trade tensions between the two spilled into public view after President Trump imposed big new tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the E.U. According to the post the president believes the G7 is a distraction from it's up coming summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has learned exclusively Trump and Trudeau had a tense phone call two weeks ago over the new tariff. Trudeau asked the president how he can justify the tariffs on national security grounds. Trump quipped in response quote "Didn't you guys burn down the White House?" A reference to the war of 1812, of course it was British not Canadian troops who set fire to the White House in 1814. Asked if the comment was taken as a joke. One source on the call said "To the degree one can ever take what is said as a joke." But the source points out the impact of tariffs on Canada and workers in the U.S. will not be a laughing matter.

BERMAN: One senior administration official declined to comment on the 1812 anecdote but did try to justify the national security grounds for tariffs arguing the steel and aluminum industries in the U.S. are so depressed they could not announce(ph) a world war type mobilization. New American jobs are being added in the mediate wake of the tariffs. One Illinois company adding hundreds of positions to restart two furnaces. Defense Secretary James Mattis who rarely deals with the politics, meanwhile weighed in on these trade concessions.


JAMES MATTIS: So will the trade war have an impact effect on the security relationships. Right now I don't see that and I think it's still premature to call it a trade war because as it starts maturing, you know there's always give and take on these things. Along the path going there, certainly it will be a little rocky, a little bumpy at times but so far I do not anticipate any effect in the security arena.


BOLDUAN: In Congress Senator Bob Corker tells CNN the president called him telling him back off his effort to curb the president's power on trade. The president told Corker the move might hurt his leverage in negotiations, hurt the president's leverage in negotiations. Corker says he responded he has a duty as a senator to push ahead. Maybe so but majority leader Mitch McConnell telling Sirus XM in an interview to air this morning, the senate does not need to rein in the president through legislation. All right(ph) U.S. trade will indeed be the focus of tomorrow's G7 summit. A meeting of the worlds largest economies.

Economic advisor Larry Kudlow says President Trump is not backing down from his aggressive trade stance setting the stage for a show down with U.S. allies.


LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We will do what is necessary to protect the United States, it's businesses and it's workforce. He has always said and I agree, tariffs are a tool and not effort and people should recognize how serious he is.


BOLDUAN: You know Kudlow also said the world trading system is hopelessly broken and the United States with a very strong economy behind it, is going to fix it. This is the first chance for G7 leaders to confront the president though about those steel and aluminum tariffs. It will likely be the focus of his separate bilateral meetings with the French President Emmanuel Macron and the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Last week U.S. metal tariffs unleashed a rare rebuke from the G7 finance ministers. There are actually six of them rebuking the United States.

And Canada and Mexico quickly hit back with tariffs of their own and now the E.U. making good on it's tariff threat targeting three billion in U.S. goods starting in July, including denim, peanut butter, motorcycles, bourbon, classic American products and they are strategic. They are hitting states governed by senior republicans. We have seen Mexico and Canada with lists that target right into Trump country as their retaliation.

BERMAN: It's going to be an interesting weekend at the G7. Let's talk about it with CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer historian and professor at Princeton University.

BOLDUAN: Hi Julian.

BERMAN: It's good to see you sir.


BERMAN: It's not exactly breaking news that president Trump don't know much about history. We love our breaking news banners but no ones surprised that the president you know doesn't know a lot about the war of 1812 or who burned down the White House but what does it say, even if it were true, whether it's a bad joke or not about the relationship, the dynamic between the president and some of closest allies? ZELIZER: They are tense, they are strained and we are in an arena where it doesn't seem the president has a good feel for why our allies are our allies and what the value is. And so that's why this statement whether it was a joke or a mistake, get's into something bigger about what the presidency is doing to our relations with the world.

BOLDUAN: No question the U.S. is like the skunk in a garden party for the G7 next weekend.


BOLDUAN: And the president knows it. He likes to be feted and he likes to be celebrated and he will not be at that G7 meeting. You almost have this split screen, if you will of a president who is isolated by our closest friends and people who share our world view of democracy. Yet smiling pictures of him with Russian Ambassador in the White House and potentially a smiling picture with him and Kim Jong- Un. It's possible he will have a better reception with the dictator in North Korea then he will with Democratic allies.

ZELIZER: Right it's better to be an advisory then an ally these days to the United States but that's a problem because in the end success, working out some kind of agreement with an adversary or in some other part of the world working on some kind of military operation, it depends on alliances. We've seen this again and again since World War II. Our alliances are our friend, they give us strength to go into new areas. So there's a high risk in what he's doing and it might actually under cut his efforts to work out some kind of deal with North Korea.

BOLDUAN: He's determined on the trade stuff. I mean ...


BOLDUAN: ... what I'm hearing from inside the White House, he is determined on the trade stuff and our allies should know he's going to go forward with these tariffs and this is the way it's going to be.

ZELIZER: It looks like it's more then campaign rhetoric and it looks like this time he's not backing away. And now were seeing responses, some of the responses are going into Republican territory. So there will be a political story because Republicans are looking at the mid terms and if this starts to really hurt them or affect them, there might be some blow back.

BERMAN: Well you are seeing some rare push back from fellow Republicans about the president's notion of spygate(ph). Maybe not on the tariffs other then Corker but of this whole notion that there was this spy improperly planted in the campaign. Trey Gowdy said the FBI essentially did everything correct and then Paul Ryan in a rare, a little push back against the president said this.


PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Normally I don't like to comment on quest(ph) by briefings, let me say it this way. I think Chairman Gowdy's initial assessment is accurate. I think - but we have some more digging to do. We're waiting for some more document request. We have some more documents to review.


[05:05:00]BERMAN: All right Richard Burr senator from North Carolina added I think that Trey Gowdy's description of the process was correct. Not exactly profile encourage from many Republican right now.


BERMAN: But some push back. Drawing a line in the sand. What do you make of it?

ZELIZER: Simon(ph) Little are the key words in everything that you said. I mean this is -- the bar is so low. He just threw a story, threw an accusation out there. Republicans are heard the evidence and didn't hear anything to support it. A few republicans, one who's leaving, one who's retiring say there's no evidence to support this. And that's for - thus far that's it. But this was a big accusation that the president made. So what's surprising is we've only heard from a few republicans at this point, not more.

BERMAN: An ultimately when he throws these things out there, evidence doesn't matter.


BERMAN: It takes hold. 30, 40 percent of the country believes it regardless.


ZELIZER: It's like the correcting in a newspaper story.


ZELIZER: It comes after everyone's read the story.

BERMAN: The damage is done.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you quickly about this new kind of mood we're hearing or this new tone we're hearing about the economy. You know I heard Mick Mulvaney say earlier this week, everyone in America who wants a job has one. And we've talked about how strong the economy is. We hear from Sarah Sanders and others who say we never talk about it. We do, the economy is strong. Is there a risk though in this White House saying everyone who wants a job has one? When this is a president who won basically by voicing the frustrations of people who feel under employed and left behind.

ZELIZER: That's right. Trumps agreement was even when the economy's actually doing well, a lot of people are suffering. And right now he is ignoring his own argument. BOLDUAN: Right.

ZELIZER: The thing is for a lot of his supporters, they will stand by him regardless of how they're feeling economically.


ZELIZER: So that - they love him. They are passionate about who he is as a leader. They are passionate about some of the arguments he makes on social and cultural issues and they're also angry about a lot of the rest of the country and the rest of the politics. So they're willing to put aside some of their feelings about their own pocket book, I think. Support the numbers the see and move forward with the republican ticket.

BERMAN: All right, I want to ask you about some surprising comments from Joe Manchin in 30 minutes.


BERMAN: If he might be open to supporting President Trump in 2020. We'll see you in about 20 minutes.

BOLDUAN: All right the president paying a visit to FEMA headquarters for a briefing on the new hurricane season. Not a word about the staggering new death toll estimates from hurricane Maria. 4,600 people killed by the storm. The president did briefly mention Puerto Rico but offered no indication the U.S. responses being reviewed, instead praising FEMA and other U.S. officials for their work. There was this bazaar claim about Coast Guard rescues in Texas during hurricane Harvey.


DONALD TRUMP: I think this year the Coast Guard maybe in terms of increase branding. The brand of the Coast Guard has been something incredible, what's happened. Saved 16,000 people, many of them in Texas for what ever reason that is. People went out in their boats to watch the hurricane, that didn't work out to well.


BERMAN: All right to be clear, no evidence of the president's claim. It did not sit well with first responders. They give credit to hundreds of civilians who used their own boats to rescue neighbors. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez telling the Houston Chronicle "I'll be sure to invite the president to ride out the next hurricane in a Jon boat in Galveston Bay the next time one approaches."


BOLDUAN: Two of the closest aides to embattled EPA Administer Scott Pruitt have resigned. Sarah Greenwalt, a senior counselor to Pruitt and Millan Hupp his scheduling director. Pruitt came under scrutiny for approving pay raises for both without White House approval. Hupp also recently testified that she did many personal tasks for Heuitt - for Pruitt.

BERMAN: On Wednesday Pruitt also appeared to confirm. Recent reports he tried to help his wife open a Chick-fil-a fast food franchise. Pruitt defended the effort in an interview calling Chick-fil-a a franchise of faith and saying we need more of them. Despite mounting troubles for Pruitt, the President remains in his corner and saying yesterday people are very happy with the job being done at the EPA.

BOLDUAN: Sixty-three year old Alice Marie Johnson is a free woman this morning, the latest person granted clemency by President Trump. Johnson was sentenced in 1996 on cocaine possession and money laundering charges. Last week, Kim Kardashian West met with the President in the oval office to request a pardon for Johnson. Her sentence commuted yesterday.


ALICE MARIE JOHNSON, PARDONED INMATE: I will not waste this second chance in life. I believe that God has given me this second chance so others may one day have a second chance. So I have an obligation not only to my family who has waited all of these years for me but an obligation to the people who have been left behind.


BERMAN: Alice Johnson says the first meal after leaving prison was Red Lobster. Under the Obama Administration the Justice Department denied three clemency petitions for Johnson. Prosecutors claim she was heavily involved with the drug cartel even though she was never charged for it. CNN has also learned President Trump is currently eyeing pardons for dozens of people with some of the cases involving what he considers Justice Department overreach.

BOLDUAN: The Prime Minister of Japan visits the White House today. A critical meeting to lay ground work for the North Korea summit next week. We're live in Tokyo.


BOLDUAN: CNN has learned U.S. officials are laying the ground work in case President Trump and Kim Jong-un want to hold a second day of meetings in Singapore. Their summit starts Tuesday. Now former NBA star Dennis Rodman who has made at least five visits to North Korea could be inserting himself into the narrative.

BERMAN: Rodman's agent tells CNN his client is considering traveling to Singapore. A senior Administration official tells CNN Rodman is not part of anything the White House team is doing at the summit. The President hosts Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a key meeting ahead of the North Korea summit. CNN's Anna Coren live in Tokyo. Anna, good morning to you. What exactly is it that the Japanese primary focus is ahead of the Singapore summit?

[05:15:00] ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Japan wants to be on the same page as the United States, at least that's what they're saying publicly and claiming that very supportive of the Donald Trump's policy when it comes to North Korea. Behind closed doors however it is a different story.

Prime Minister Abe will meet with President Trump at the White House just after midday. He will hold a one-on-one meeting in a working lunch that will go for about an hour and a half and take questions at a press conference; two questions each for both leaders. He will be reiterating japans' concerns when it comes to security. Japan has been living with this story for the last 30 years.

They've watched North Korea develop its nuclear weapons program that had the missile tests fly over the Japanese territory and land in their waters. It had North Korea threaten war and attacks against Japan so Abe will be telling Trump go into this meeting with your eyes wide open. Know who you are getting into bed with, so to speak, because this is someone that Japan does not trust. There is a healthy sense of cynicism when it comes with dealing with North Korea.

The other issue Dave, that Abe will discuss with Trump is the issue of abductees and that is the at least 17 Japanese nationals kidnapped from Japan, taken to North Korea to teach their spies how to speak Japanese, behave like Japanese. it something from a spy novel, but it's something also that the prime minister of Japan says is very important. He wants Donald Trump to bring that up with Kim Jong-un when he meets with him in Singapore next week. Dave.

BERMAN: OK. We get two questions for the Prime Minister and President in the 2:00 p.m. hour. Anna Coren live for us in Tokyo. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right the state department reports medical screening of U.S. personnel in China reveals possible new cases of acoustic incidents similar to the sonic attacks experienced by embassy workers in Cuba. Officials say a number of people have been sent back to the U.S. for further evaluation. The screenings came after a U.S. government employee in China became ill after reporting abnormal sensations of sound and pressure which resulted in a mild brain injury.

BERMAN: All right home court not enough to help Lebron James and the Cavaliers. Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report" for us next.


BERMAN: All right, the Warriors one win away from their third title in four years.

BOLDUAN: Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report, Hey Andy.



[05:25:00] BOLDUAN: All right, the G7 summit testing the President's ego and his patience. He thinks that his upstaging (ph) the North Korea summit and thinks sitting with leaders that disagree with him is a waste of time. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)